It seems like much more than eight years since we saw the end of the George W. Bush’s terms and the beginning of the Obama years. Back then, I was just a wee high school junior with the world on a pedestal. What a difference eight years makes. I remember the Iraq and Afghanistan headlines of the Bush years like yesterday. News like, “No WMD’s found in Iraq”, and “More troops to be deployed to Afghanistan” was rampant. Those headlines were replaced with news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, troops returning home and non-violent resolutions that keep nuclear material out of the hands of our enemy. While the debate about whether we’re better off after the Obama years or worse will rage on, I’m just glad that fewer American men and women are dying overseas
Eight years ago when Barack Obama was sworn into the Oval Office, I was one year away from graduating from CU Boulder. That fall semester, the Great Recession hit. Despite that, I was still a young, bushy tailed college kid putting off responsibility and having fun. Although I was aware of what was happening, it all seemed so far away. Global events were fun, but didn’t impact me. Time shattered that attitude. After graduation, it was a struggle to find work. Even living at two dollars above minimum wage was still not a living wage. Everywhere that paid well required two years experience for entry level. Radio and news became an escape to a world that seemed at times realer than the banality of everyday life. Two years into Obama’s second term, I resolved to become a journalist. I’ve realized the importance of making the most out of opportunities. I returned to school to begin a career. And yet, the rough years working with people I would never have interacted with as a rich kid from Massachusetts taught me humility. I know who I want to be, but I still have much to learn and do before becoming that person. Donald Trump enters office as my 20’s end. And yet, the rough years behind me gave me the experience I need to make my 30’s count.
Eight Years ago, I was just a middle schooler. Everything seemed so simple and innocent. My friends and I didn’t care what each other thought. We were content just hanging out during recess. As I grew older, things naturally became very different. I became very conscious about the state of the world, and I began to change many of my own perspectives about how things are. Even with my own demeanor, I made friends with all different types of people. It was nice to see all different kinds of people coming together and just having a good time enjoying each others’ company.
It’s crazy to think it has been eight years since Obama became president. It was my freshman year of highschool when he was first elected and no matter where I looked, there was someone talking about how monumental it was for him to win. They talked about how groundbreaking his presidency would be and how much the world was going to change moving forward. Looking back now, there certainly were ways my world was changed. In his first term, the great Recession hit in full force and my parents lost most of their money in the market. They’d talk with me about how rough it would get once I started job searching, convincing me to apply for college and pursue it in earnest. The conflicts between Obama and the GOP showed me how imperfect government really is, and how colliding opinions can leave those in need unhelped. When the Affordable Care Act, part of Obama’s namesake, was passed, it became easier for my brother to afford life saving medications. Race became a less subtle undertone to discussions with my friends and parents, leading to big revelations about the world around me. I won’t say that the past eight years were great. They had ups and downs, and Obama wasn’t the man who would come and save the country. But then, a man like that doesn’t exist. He was a normal human being, and considering that, he did a damn good job with the hand he was dealt. He still changed the lives of many Americans, myself included. I grew up in the Obama presidency, and I’m glad for all the good and the bad that came with it. Thank you for the last eight years Mr. President. You will be missed.
I’ve never been one to find infatuation in movie stars or boy bands. Nor could I understand people’s sheer excitement at meeting any of those aforementioned people. Yet as a bright-eyed 19-year-old high school graduate meeting my future president gave me all the feels. I remember being frisked by secret services and nudging my way as close as I could to the stage with my younger sister and my mother. I remember being in awe of this amazingly eloquent black man, so different from the ones I had met in my lifetime, telling me that my voice and my vote mattered and that I should put my hope in him. I can’t describe how lucky I felt that I got to shake his hand and my notions of grandeur when I turned out in the cold to vote for our first black president. I voted for him again four years later and I felt just as proud. There hasn’t been a moment of doubt in my head once in the last eight years that this man has lead our country in the right direction. As he leaves office a different feeling grips my heart. A feeling of uncertainty and fear for the future of our country, the future of my boy. I have a different kind of hope now. A hope that my son grows up in the same America I did.
Following the recent polarized election and the stir that accumulated in America’s political spectrum after the race, I’ve begun to do some reflecting revolving my life as an American citizen. In the past eight years I have been fortunate enough to live during the first African American president and witness the impact his two terms made on a global level as well as a personal level for me. Even today, I often overhear and participate in conversations that revolve around what makes a good president. In my relatively short life, President Obama has made the the biggest impact for me. I could ramble on about why I believe this, but the bigger topic is how people are reacting to our upcoming 45th president, Donald Trump. I personally feel that this transitioning period in politics feels like I’m participating in a very poignant moment in American history and I’m grateful to be able to live through it.
Eight years ago, on election day, I was scrambling to place my first vote as a legal-aged citizen. I was in a small town between Aspen and Glenwood Springs called El Jebel, Colo., anxiously reading up on the laws while sitting in the front lobby of an elementary school. Unfortunately, I had applied for a mail-in ballot in Denver without remembering. When I got to the front of the line, they informed me I was registered in a different county, as though I was an idiot or something. It turned out to be OK because I was going to vote for Ralph Nader. Apparently that is a throw away vote. In 2012 I did everything right and voted for Nader… for real.